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Kenneth Walker’s refusal to run the called play

The shifty RB leads the league in blazing his own trail.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Start calling him Kenneth Walker Texas Ranger, because he just does what he wants.

Walker’s elusiveness and broken tackle ability have him locked in as one of the more “talented” running backs in the NFL. I say “talented,” because while he is that, his style of play at the moment makes it hard to confirm whether it makes him much “better” than other backs.

I’ve been a defender of Walker, but a closer look at his decision-making reveals he’s operating under a self-made ceiling. If he doesn’t fix it, he might be in trouble.

This graph means Kenneth Walker is the runaway leader of “nope” when it comes to hitting the correct intended gap.

This should surprise absolutely nobody.

However, and perhaps surprisingly, he’s not very good at it.

26% of the time, Walker bounces out. but only about 22% of the time is it successful. That’s defined as 40% of the remaining yards on 1st down, 60% on 2nd down, and converting on 3rd or 4th.

Walker’s ability to make stuff up is part of his greatness.

Replace Walker’s name with another Seattle great and you’ve got something.

Hmm.

Walker’s best run against the Cleveland Browns was through the designed gap. After that, the run game struggled.

My position is not that this is worthy of “Charbonnet RB1” cries. Get that outta here. But it is absolutely worth a conversation from Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron. You gotta take the 4 yards at some point, and save the home run attempts for when you don’t lead the MLB in strikeouts another point in the game.

Another sense I get is Walker is trying to lean into a strength that appears as though it would mask a current team weakness. We’ve seen the Seahawks battle through offensive line issues all year. Furthermore, when one side plays well against the pass (left) it’s often fared badly against the run, and vice versa. Some of Walker’s 0-2 yard gains contain like three broken tackles.

He’s really good at this. But I do wonder if he’s trying too hard. He’s had enough broken plays and made enough guys miss that it’s habit.

Fun that the league’s second-best shifty runner will be on the other side of the field on Sunday in Lamar Jackson. The Baltimore Ravens are another stringent defense, and Seattle will need the running game working to keep apace in this one. Hopefully Walker can dial in the risk/reward element of his game for this battle.